Once you tug on the thread of undisclosed financial interests in climate science, you’ll find it more a norm than exception. – Roger Pielke Jr (tweet)
I started working on this post last week, in response to the Willie Soon imbroglio. This whole issue has now become personal.
In case you haven’t been following this, Justin Gillis broke the story on Willie Soon with this article Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher. The Smithsonian issued the following statement on the issue of Soon’s funding and apparent failure to disclose this funding in journal publications. Science Magazine has a summary [here] and Nature has a summary [here].
The ‘plot’ thickened yesterday, as Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva (Democrat) Asks for Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures from GOP’s Go-To Climate Witnesses [link]. Excerpts:
The conflict-of-interest scandal involving a climate denier secretly funded by the fossil-fuel industry is spreading to other academics who oppose regulation of climate pollution. A top House Democrat has issued letters asking several researchers who have appeared as Republican witnesses before Congress questioning climate science to disclose their funding sources.
“I am hopeful that disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institution’s name and assist me and my colleagues in making better law,” Grijalva wrote. “Companies with a direct financial interest in climate and air quality standards are funding environmental research that influences state and federal regulations and shapes public understanding of climate science. These conflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions. My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships.”
The letters request the institutions’ disclosure policies, drafts and communications relating to Congressional testimony, and sources of external funding for the academics in question.
The disclosure requests are needed because Congressional “truth in testimony” rules require witnesses to disclose government funding sources, but not private or corporate funding. Under Republican control, the rules are unevenly implemented, with not-for-profit witnesses required to submit pages of additional disclosures, while corporate-sector witnesses are not.
The seven academics who dispute the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming who have been asked to disclose their funding are:
David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr., Steven Hayward.
A copy of the letter from Grijalva that was sent to President Peterson of Georgia Tech is [here].
An article in ClimateWire provides additional context [link].
Skip to JC reflections for my punch line.
Conflict in scientific publication
Conflict of interest related to industry funding is a very big issue in biomedical research (related to drug and food safety) and also related to environmental contaminants. It isn’t a big issue in other scientific fields. Apart from expecting scientists to describe funding sources in the Acknowledgements, many journals don’t even have any conflict of interest disclosure requirements.
For those journals that do have such requirements, the requirements for disclosure are vastly different. As examples:
Nature : In the interests of transparency and to help readers to form their own judgements of potential bias, Nature journals require authors to declare to the editors any competing financial interests in relation to the work described. The corresponding author is responsible for submitting a competing financial interests statement on behalf of all authors of the paper. Authors submitting their manuscripts using the journal’s online manuscript tracking system are required to make their declaration as part of this process and to specify the competing interests in cases where they exist. The definition of conflict of interest relates to funding sources, employment, and personal financial interests.
Science : Science goes further with this statement: Management/Advisory affiliations: Within the last 3 years, status as an officer, a member of the Board, or a member of an Advisory Committee of any entity engaged in activity related to the subject matter of this contribution. Please disclose the nature of these relationships and the financial arrangements. Within the last 3 years, receipt of consulting fees, honoraria, speaking fees, or expert testimony fees from entities that have a financial interest in the results and materials of this study.
Wow. I haven’t published anything in Science in recent years (and never as a first author). So, all those scientists serving on Boards of green advocacy groups [Climate Scientists Joining Green Advocacy Groups] who publish in Science on any environmental or climate change topic should be declaring a conflict of interest.
So, once an author of a climate change paper declares a conflict of interest, what is that supposed to mean? An article in Science Magazine addresses this issue:
Conflict-of-interest controversies are rare in her field, she notes, and “they can be tricky.” Conflict is often in the eye of the beholder, she says, and researchers often accept all kinds of funding that doesn’t necessarily skew their peer-reviewed publications. “I’m for full disclosure,” she says, “but I’m not sure how we’re going to address this.” The journal, published by Elsevier, asks authors to fill out a conflict-of-interest disclosure. But Strangeway admits he’s never carefully examined one—and isn’t sure what he’s supposed to do if he sees a red flag. “We wouldn’t be raising the journal issue if [Soon] had simply disclosed Southern’s support,” he says.
Scientific journals are being alerted by watchdog groups to fossil fuel funding of contrarian climate studies [link]. Are we not to be concerned by fossil fuel funding of consensus climate science (there is plenty of that, see below)? Are we not to be concerned by funding from green advocacy groups and scientists serving on the Boards of green advocacy groups?
DeSmog surprised me with this article: How often were Willie Soon’s Industry-funded Deliverables Were Referenced by the IPCC? I was surprised to find that published journal papers with ties to industry made it into the IPCC, to counter all those gray literature articles by Greenpeace et al.
So, in climate science, what is the point of conflict of interest disclosure? Bishop Hill sums it up this way:
As far as I can see, the story is that Soon and three co-authors published a paper on climate sensitivity. At the same time (or perhaps in the past – this being a smear-job it’s hard to get at the facts) he was being funded to do work on things like the solar influence on climate by people that greens feel are the baddies. They and the greens feel he should have disclosed that baddies were paying him to do stuff on a paper that was not funded by the baddies.
The issue is this. The intense politicization of climate science makes bias more likely to be coming from political and ideological perspectives than from funding sources. Unlike research related to food and drug safety and environmental contaminants, most climate science is easily replicable using publicly available data sets and models. So all this IMO is frankly a red herring in the field of climate science research.
Bottom line: Scientists, pay attention to conflict of interest guidelines for journals to which you are submitting papers. Select journals that have COI disclosure requirements that are consistent with your comfort level.
Conflict in Testimony
The HillHeat article provides links to the relevant testimony by the 7 individuals (see original article for actual links):
- David Legates, Department of Agricultural Economics & Statistics, University of Delaware climatologist (6/3/14, 7/29/03, 3/13/02)
- John Christy, University of Alabama atmospheric scientist (12/11/13, 9/20/12, 8/1/12, 3/31/11, 3/8/11, 2/25/09, 7/27/06 (video), 5/13/03, 5/2/01, 5/17/00, 7/10/97)
- Judith Curry, Georgia Institute of Technology climatologist (1/16/14, 4/25/13, 11/17/10)
- Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric physicist (11/17/10, 5/2/01, 7/10/97, 1991 (Senate), 10/8/91)
- Robert C Balling Jr, Arizona State University geographer (3/6/96; North Carolina Legislature 3/20/06)
- Roger Pielke Jr, University of Colorado political scientist (12/11/13, 7/18/13, 3/8/11, 5/16/07, 1/30/07 (video), 7/20/06, 3/13/02)
- Steven Hayward, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University historian (5/25/11, 10/7/09, 4/22/09, 3/12/09, 3/17/99)
HOLD ON. The article ‘forgot’ to reference my earlier testimony for the Democrats in 2006, 2007:
- House Committee on Govt Reform, “Hurricanes and Global Warming,” 7/20/06 [link]
- House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, “Dangerous Climate Change,” 4/26/07 [link]
I can see that this earlier testimony is ‘inconvenient’ to their argument.
When you testify, you are required to include a financial disclosure related to your government funding. Presumably this is relevant if you are testifying with relation to performance by a government agency. There is no disclosure requirement that is relevant to individuals from industry or advocacy groups, or for scientists receiving funding from industry or advocacy groups.
To clarify my own funding, I have included the following statement of financial interests at the end of my testimony:
Funding sources for Curry’s research have included NSF, NASA, NOAA, DOD and DOE. Recent contracts for CFAN include a DOE contract to develop extended range regional wind power forecasts and a DOD contract to predict extreme events associated with climate variability/change having implications for regional stability. CFAN contracts with private sector and other non-governmental organizations include energy and power companies, reinsurance companies, other weather service providers, NGOs and development banks. Specifically with regards to the energy and power companies, these contracts are for medium-range (days to weeks) forecasts of hurricane activity and landfall impacts. CFAN has one contract with an energy company that also includes medium-range forecasts of energy demand (temperature), hydropower generation, and wind power generation. CFAN has not received any funds from energy companies related to climate change or any topic related to this testimony.
I note that during congressional questioning, I was never asked anything about my funding sources.
Again, I think that biases in testimony related to climate change are more likely to be ideological and political than related to funding.
So what is the point of asking for detailed financial information (including travel) from these academic researchers?
Intimidation and harassment is certainly one reason that comes to mind. Roger Pielke Jr seems to think this is the case, as described in his blog post I am Under Investigation:
I have no funding, declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest. I never have. Representative Grijalva knows this too, because when I have testified before the US Congress, I have disclosed my funding and possible conflicts of interest. So I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated “witch hunt” designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.
The relevant issue to my mind is to expect non-normative testimony from academic researchers. I discussed this issue on a previous blog post Congressional testimony and normative science. Consensus climate scientists routinely present normative testimony, along the lines of ‘urgent mitigation action needed’. On the other hand, I personally work to make my testimony non-normative, and I would judge Christy’s and Pielke Jr’s testimony to be generally non-normative also (note Christy and Pielke Jr are the two on the list of 7 that I know best).
The issue of concern of Congressman Grijalva is funding from the Koch brothers and fossil fuel companies somehow contaminating Congressional testimony from scientists invited by Republicans to testify.
The reality is that fossil fuel money is all over climate research, whether pro or con AGW. Gifts of $100M+ have been made by oil companies to Stanford and Princeton. Anthony Watts notes the prominence of oil companies in funding the American Geophysical Union [link]. The Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy take fossil fuel money [link]. The UKMetOffice has stated that energy companies are major customers.
NRO has an article Follow the Money, excerpt:
In truth, the overwhelming majority of climate-research funding comes from the federal government and left-wing foundations. And while the energy industry funds both sides of the climate debate, the government/foundation monies go only toward research that advances the warming regulatory agenda. With a clear public-policy outcome in mind, the government/foundation gravy train is a much greater threat to scientific integrity.
With federal research funding declining in many areas, academics at universities are being encouraged to obtain funding from industry.
I have to say I was pretty intrigued by Soon’s funding from the Southern Company. Southern Company (SoCo) provides power to Georgia. Georgia Power (a SoCo subsidiary) has provided considerable funding to Georgia Tech (although I have never received any). For most of the time that I was Chair, the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences had an endowed Chair from Georgia Power. When the faculty member left Georgia Tech, I chose not to hire a replacement, since I felt that my faculty hiring funds would be more productively used on younger faculty members in different research areas. I also note that one of my faculty members received funds from Georgia Power that was a ‘charitable donation’, without overhead and without deliverables. I also ‘heard’ that Southern Company/Georgia was very unhappy with the Webster et al. 2005 paper on hurricanes [link]. Note, I have received no funding from SoCo/GaPower.
My first reaction to this was to tweet: Looks like I am next up in this ‘witch hunt’. My subsequent reactions have been slowed by a massive headache (literally; cause and effect?)
It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus. The political motivations of all this are apparent from barackobama.com: Call Out The Climate Deniers.
It is much easier for a scientist just to ‘go along’ with the consensus. In a recent interview, as yet unpublished, I was asked: I’ve seen some instances where you have been called a “denier” when it comes to climate change, I am just curious as to your opinion on that? My reply:
As a scientist, I am an independent thinker, and I draw my own conclusions about the evidence regarding climate change. My conclusions, particularly my assessments of high levels of uncertainty, differ from the ‘consensus’ of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Why does this difference in my own assessment relative to the IPCC result in my being labeled a ‘denier’? Well, the political approach to motivate action on climate change has been to ‘speak consensus to power’, which seems to require marginalizing and denigrating anyone who disagrees. The collapse of the consensus regarding cholesterol and heart disease reminds us that for scientific progress to occur, scientists need to continually challenge and reassess the evidence and the conclusions drawn from the evidence.
Well, the burden is on Georgia Tech to come up with all of the requested info. Georgia Tech has a very stringent conflict of interest policy, and I have worked closely in the past with the COI office to manage any conflicts related to my company. Apart from using up valuable resources at Georgia Tech to respond to this, there is no burden on me.
Other than an emotional burden. This is the first time I have been ‘attacked’ in a substantive way for doing my science honestly and speaking up about it. Sure, anonymous bloggers go after me, but I have received no death threats via email, no dead rats delivered to my door step, etc.
I think Grijalva has made a really big mistake in doing this. I am wondering on what authority Grijalva is demanding this information? He is ranking minority member of a committee before which I have never testified. Do his colleagues in the Democratic Party support his actions? Are they worried about backlash from the Republicans, in going after Democrat witnesses?
I don’t think anything good will come of this. I anticipate that Grijalva will not find any kind of an undisclosed fossil fuel smoking gun from any of the 7 individuals under investigation. There is already one really bad thing that has come of this – Roger Pielke Jr has stated:
The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues. I am simply not initiating any new research or papers on the topic and I have ring-fenced my slowly diminishing blogging on the subject. I am a full professor with tenure, so no one need worry about me — I’ll be just fine as there are plenty of interesting, research-able policy issues to occupy my time. But I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”
“More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia.” and “Alzheimer’s (can only be) distinguished from other dementias at autopsy.” – from a Harvard University Health Publication entitled What’s Causing Your Memory Loss? It Isn’t Necessarily Alzheimer’s
“Medications have now emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial damage, which may explain many adverse effects. All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have statin medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others.” – Neustadt and Pieczenik, authors of Medication-induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease
“Establishing mitochondrial toxicity is not an FDA requirement for drug approval, so there is no real way of knowing which agents are truly toxic.” – Dr. Katherine Sims, Mass General Hospital -http://www.mitoaction.org
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair, anti-fascist, anti-imperialist American author who wrote in the early 20thcentury
“No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable… for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death.” – President Ronald Reagan, as he signed The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, absolving drug companies from all medico-legal liability when children die or are disabled from vaccine injuries.
Over the past several decades there have been a number of well-financed campaigns, promoted by well-meaning laypersons, to raise public awareness to the plight of patients with dementia. Suspiciously, most of these campaigns that come from “patient support” groups lead the public to believe that every dementia patient has Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).
Not so curiously, it turns out that many – perhaps all – of these campaigns have been funded – usually secretly – by the very pharmaceutical companies that benefit economically by indirectly promoting the sale of so-called Alzheimer’s drugs. Such corporate-generated public relations “campaigns” are standard operating procedure for all of BigPharma drugs, especially its psychopharmaceutical drugs. BigPharma has found that the promotion and de-stigmatization of so-called “mental illnesses” (for which there are FDA-approved drugs) is a great tool for marketing their drugs.
Recently Alzheimer’s support groups all around the nation have been sponsoring the documentary about country singer Glen Campbell who has recently been diagnosed by his physicians with Alzheimer’s disease (of unknown etiology) despite the obvious fact that Campbell was infamous for his chronic heavy use of brain-damaging, dementia-inducing, addicting, and very neurotoxic drugs like cocaine and alcohol. And, just like so many other hard-living celebrities like the recently suicidal Robin Williams, Campbell was known to have received prescriptions of legal drugs from their prescribing boutique psychiatrists and physicians, just adding to the burden that their failing livers, brains and psyches had to endure.
Since it is known that Alzheimer’s disease can only be truly diagnosed by a microscopic examination of the cerebral cortex (at autopsy), we have to question the very alive Glen Campbell’s diagnosis. And we also have to question the veracity and motivations of the sponsoring patient support groups and their BigPharma sponsors.
Is the Alzheimer’s Epidemic Actually a Drug-Induced Dementia Epidemic?
Synchronous with the huge increases (over the past generation or so) in
1) the incidence of childhood and adult vaccinations,
2) the widespread use of psychotropic and statin (cholesterol-lowering) drug use, and
3) the increased ingestion of a variety of neurotoxic substances – including food additives, there has been a large parallel increase in the incidence of
a) chronic illnesses of childhood, including autistic spectrum disorders,
b) “mental illnesses of unknown origin”, and also
c) dementia, a multifactorial reality which, via clever marketing and the studied ignorance of what is scientifically known about the actual causes – and diagnosis – of dementia, which has been primarily – and mistakenly – referred to as Alzheimer’s disease (of unknown etiology).
It is important to ask and then demand an honest answer to the question “could there be a connection between America’s increasingly common over-prescribing of immunotoxic, neurotoxic, synthetic prescription drugs and vaccines and some of the neurodegenerative disorders that supposedly “have no known cause”?
Could the economically disabling American epidemic of autoimmune disorders, psychiatric disorders, autism spectrum disorders, etc (all supposedly of unknown origin) that have erupted over the past several decades be found to have recognizable root causes and therefore be treatable and, most importantly, preventable?
These are extremely important questions, especially in the case of the current dementia epidemic, because the so-called Alzheimer’s patient support groups seem to be totally unaware of the powerful evidence that prescription drugs known to damage brain cells (especially by poisoning their mitochondria) would be expected to cause a variety of neurological and psychological disorders because of the brain cell death that eventually happens when enough of the mitochondria (the microscopic hearts and lungs of every cell) have been wounded irretrievably or killed off. (See more info on drugs and mitochondria below.)
One of the big problems in America’s corporate-controlled culture, corporate-controlled media and corporate-controlled medical industries is that the giant pharmaceutical corporations, who are in the business of developing, marketing and selling known mitochondrial toxins (in the form of their drugs and vaccine ingredients) have a special interest in pretending that there is no known cause for the disorders that their synthetic chemicals are causing (or they use the unprovable “it’s probably genetic” subterfuge).
It should be a concern of everybody who knows a demented patient, that some AD patient support groups are known to be front groups for the pharmaceutical companies that profit from the marketing to patients and their doctors the disappointingly ineffective drugs for Alzheimer’s like Aricept, Exelon, Namenda, Hexalon, and Razadyne.
Prescription Drug-Induced – and Vaccine-Induced – Mitochondrial Disorders
Acquired mitochondrial disorders (as opposed to the relatively rare primary mitochondrial disorders like muscular dystrophy) that can be caused by commonly prescribed drugs are difficult to diagnose and are generally poorly understood by most practitioners. When I went to med school, nobody knew anything about what synthetic drugs or vaccines did to the mitochondria.
A lot of mitochondrial research, especially since the 1990s, has proven the connections between a variety of commonly prescribed medications and mitochondrial disorders. That evidence seems to have been cunningly covered-up by the for-profit pharma groups (who control medical education and much of the media) and various other powers-that-be because of the serious economic consequences if the information was allowed in the popular press. The stake-holders in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, most of whom profit mightily from the routine and increasing usage of neurotoxic drugs and vaccines, supposedly operating in the name of Hippocrates, would be very displeased if this information got out. I submit that BigPharma’s cover-up of the connections is totally unethical and, in the opinion of many other whistleblowers, criminal.
An Honest Patient Guide for Dementia Patients from Harvard!
So I was pleasantly surprised to find a reasonably honest guide for dementia patients on a Harvard University website.
(The entire guide can be accessed at http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/whats-causing-your-memory-loss.htm#top.)
The information at that website stated that there were over 50 conditions that could cause or mimic early dementia symptoms. I hadn’t been taught anything about that reality when I went to med school, and I doubt that many of my physician colleagues were either. And besides, what medical practitioner in our double-booked clinic environment, even if he or she was aware, has the time to thoroughly rule out the 50 conditions when confronted with a patient with memory loss?
I have often said to my patients and my seminar participants: “it takes only 2 minutes to write a prescription, but it takes 20 minutes to not write a prescription”. And in the current for-profit clinic culture, time is money and few physicians are given the “luxury” of spending adequate time with their patients. (In defense of the physicians that I know, they are not happy about that reality but don’t know what to do about it.)
It is so tempting to use the popularized, but rather squishy label of AD (of unknown etiology) rather than to educate ourselves about the possibility of drug- or vaccine-induced dementia. But what is so important is that many of the 50+ conditions are preventable or reversible, which will be therapeutic only if the conditions are identified before permanent brain damage occurs.
The Harvard guide actually said that “medications are common culprits in mental decline. With aging, the liver becomes less efficient at metabolizing drugs, and the kidneys eliminate them from the body more slowly. As a result, drugs tend to accumulate in the body. Elderly people in poor health and those taking several different medications are especially vulnerable.”
The guide continued with a list of the possible classes of prescription drugs that number in the hundreds:
“The list of drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms is long. It includes antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-Parkinson drugs, anti-anxiety medications, cardiovascular drugs, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, narcotics, sedatives.”
The Harvard guide went on to emphasize that Alzheimer’s can only be accurately diagnosed on a post-mortem examination. The guide states that “Alzheimer’s is distinguished from other dementias at autopsy by the presence of sticky beta-amyloid plaques outside brain cells (neurons) and fibrillary tangles within neurons (all indicative of cellular death). Although such lesions may be present in any aging brain, in people with Alzheimer’s these lesions tend to be more numerous and accumulate in areas of the brain involved in learning and memory.”
“The leading theory is that the damage to the brain results from inflammation and other biological changes that cause synaptic loss and malfunction, disrupting communication between brain cells. Eventually the brain cells die, causing tissue loss In imaging scans, brain shrinkage is usually first noticeable in the hippocampus, which plays a central role in memory function.”
But even the Harvard guide inexplicably failed to mention known mitochondrial toxins such as statin drugs, metformin, Depakote, general anesthetics, fluoroquinolone antibiotics, fluorinated psychotropic drugs, NutraSweet (every molecule of aspartame, when it reaches 86 degrees F, releases one molecule of the excitotoxin aspartic acid and one molecule of methanol [wood alcohol] which metabolizes into the known mitochondrial poison formaldehyde [embalming fluid]), pesticides (including the chlorinated artificial sweetener Splenda, which was initially developed as a pesticide) or the mercury (thimerosal), aluminum and formaldehyde which are common ingredients in vaccines. These are only some of the synthetic drugs that are capable of causing mitochondrial damage in brain cells – with memory loss, confusion and cognitive dysfunction, all early symptoms of dementia.
It is tragic, but all–too-common, for reversible and preventable drug-induced dementias (therefore of known cause and thus not Alzheimer’s) to be mis-diagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease “of unknown etiology” and to then be prescribed costly, essentially ineffective and potentially toxic drugs – whose mitochondrial toxicities have not been tested for.
(The pharmaceutical industry, it should be noted, is not required by the FDA to test its drugs for mitochondrial toxicity when it is doing its studies for marketing approval, again exhibiting the total disdain for the Precautionary Principle by both industry and the regulatory agencies such as the FDA, the CDC and WHO.)
There is much more in the basic neuroscience literature proving the connections, at least from authors who do not have conflicts of interest with BigPharma and BigMedicine. The authors of these articles have raised the questions and have published the proof that concerned families of patients and their physicians desperately need to know.
Don’t expect BigPharma to respond or to offer apologies or mea culpas. Do expect denials, dismissals, distractions, discrediting and then the delaying of real legitimate explorations of the real scientific evidence that exposes its subterfuge in the name of maintaining large profits for their stakeholders.
Here are the abstracts from just two of the many peer-reviewed articles from various science journals that support the thesis of this column.
Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease
Published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal ; 2008 Jul;52(7):780-8.
Authors: Neustadt, J, Pieczenik SR.
Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Psychiatric Disorders
From: The Journal of Neurochemical Research 2009 Jun;34(6):1021-9.
Mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation is the major ATP-producing pathway, which supplies more than 95% of the total energy requirement in the cells. Damage to the mitochondrial electron transport chain has been suggested to be an important factor in the pathogenesis of a range of psychiatric disorders. Tissues with high energy demands, such as the brain, contain a large number of mitochondria, being therefore more susceptible to reduction of the aerobic metabolism. Mitochondrial dysfunction results from alterations in biochemical cascade and the damage to the mitochondrial electron transport chain has been suggested to be an important factor in the pathogenesis of a range of (so-called) neuropsychiatric disorders, such as (psychotropic drug-treated) bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia….Alterations of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in (anti-psychotic drug-treated) schizophrenia have been reported in several brain regions and also in platelets. Abnormal mitochondrial morphology, size and density have all been reported in the brains of (anti-psychotic drug-treated) schizophrenic individuals. Considering that several studies link energy impairment to neuronal death, neurodegeneration and disease, this review article discusses energy impairment as a mechanism underlying the pathophysiology of some psychiatric disorders, like (psychotropic drug-treated) bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.
Dr Kohls is a retired physician who practiced holistic mental health care for the last decade of his career, and took seriously the Hippocratic Oath that he swore when he received his medical degree. He is also a peace and justice advocate and writes a weekly column for the Reader Weekly, an alternative newsweekly published in Duluth, Minnesota, USA. The last three years of Dr Kohls’ columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn.
The U.S. has a substantial history of aggression toward Venezuela
Recently, several different spokespersons for the Obama administration have firmly claimed the United States government is not intervening in Venezuelan affairs. Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki went so far as to declare, “The allegations made by the Venezuelan government that the United States is involved in coup plotting and destabilization are baseless and false.” Psaki then reiterated a bizarrely erroneous statement she had made during a daily press briefing just a day before: “The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means.”
Anyone with minimal knowlege of Latin America and world history knows Psaki’s claim is false, and calls into question the veracity of any of her prior statements. The U.S. government has backed, encouraged and supported coup d’etats in Latin America and around the world for over a century. Some of the more notorious ones that have been openly acknowledged by former U.S. presidents and high level officials include coup d’etats against Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo in 1960, Joao Goulart of Brazil in 1964 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. More recently, in the twenty-first century, the U.S. government openly supported the coups against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela in 2002, Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in 2004 and Jose Manuel Zelaya of Honduras in 2009. Ample evidence of CIA and other U.S. agency involvement in all of these unconstitutional overthrows of democratically-elected governments abounds. What all of the overthrown leaders had in common was their unwillingness to bow to U.S. interests.
Despite bogus U.S. government claims, after Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela by an overwhelming majority in 1998, and subsequently refused to take orders from Washington, he became a fast target of U.S. aggression. Though a U.S.-supported coup d’etat briefly overthrew Chavez in 2002, his subsequent rescue by millions of Venezuelans and loyal armed forces, and his return to power, only increased U.S. hostility towards the oil-rich nation. After Chavez’s death in 2013 from cancer, his democratically-elected successor, Nicolas Maduro, became the brunt of these attacks.
What follows is a brief summary of U.S. aggression towards Venezuela that clearly shows a one-sided war. Venezuela has never threatened or taken any kind of action to harm the United States or its interests. Nonetheless, Venezuela, under both Chavez and Maduro – two presidents who have exerted Venezuela’s sovereignty and right to self-determination – has been the ongoing victim of continuous, hostile and increasingly aggressive actions from Washington.
A coup d’etat against Chávez was carried out on April 11, 2002. Documents obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) evidence a clear role of the U.S. government in the coup, as well as financial and political support for those Venezuelans involved.
A “lockout” and economic sabotage of Venezuela’s oil industry was imposed from December 2002 to February 2003. After the defeat of the coup against Chavez, the U.S. State Department issued a special fund via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to help the opposition continue efforts to overthrow Chavez. USAID set up an Office for Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas, subcontracting U.S. defense contractor Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) to oversee Venezuela operations and distribute millions of dollars to anti-government groups. The result was the “national strike” launched in December 2002 that brought the oil industry to the ground and devastated the economy. It lasted 64 days and caused more than $20 billion in damages. Nonetheless, the efforts failed to destabilize the Chavez government.
The “guarimbas” of 2004: On February 27, 2004, extremist anti-government groups initiated violent protests in Caracas aimed at overthrowing Chavez. They lasted 4 days and caused multiple deaths. The leaders of these protests had received training from the U.S. Albert Einstein Institute (AEI), which specializes in regime change tactics and strategies.
The Recall Referendum of 2004: Both NED and USAID channeled millions of dollars into a campaign to recall President Chavez through a national recall referendum. With the funds, the group Sumate, led by multi-millionaire Maria Corina Machado, was formed to oversee the efforts. Chavez won the referendum in a landslide 60-40 victory.
After the victory of President Chavez in the recall referendum of 2004, the US toughened its position towards Venezuela and increased its public hostility and aggression against the Venezuelan government. Here are a selection of statements made about Venezuela by U.S. officials:
January 2005: “Hugo Chavez is a negative force in the region.” – Condoleezza Rice.
March 2005: “Venezuela is one of the most unstable and dangerous ‘hot spots’ in Latin America.” – Porter Goss, ex-Director of the CIA.
“Venezuela is starting a dangerous arms race that threatens regional security.” – Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.
“I am concerned about Venezuela’s influence in the area of responsibility… SOUTHCOM supports the position of the Joint Chiefs to maintain ‘military to military’ contact with the Venezuelan military…we need an inter-agency focus to deal with Venezuela.” – General Bantz Craddock, ex-Commander of SOUTHCOM.
July 2005: “Cuba and Venezuela are promoting instability in Latin America… There is no doubt that President Chavez is funding radical forces in Bolivia.” -Rogelio Pardo-Maurer, Assistant Sub-Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere.
“Venezuela and Cuba are promoting radicalism in the region…Venezuela is trying to undermine the democratic governments in the region to impede CAFTA.” – Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.
August 2005: “Venezuelan territory is a safe haven for Colombian terrorists.” – Tom Casey, State Department spokesman.
September 2005: “The problem of working with President Chavez is serious and continuous, as it is in other parts of the relationship.” – John Walters, Director of the National Policy Office for Drug Control.
November 2005: “The assault on democratic institutions in Venezuela continues and the system is in serious danger.” – Thomas Shannon, Sub-secretary of State.
February 2006: “President Chavez continues to use his control to repress the opposition, reduce freedom of the press and restrict democracy…. it’s a threat.” – John Negroponte, ex-Director of National Intelligence.
“We have Chavez in Venezuela with a lot of money from oil. He is a person who was elected legally, just like Adolf Hitler…” – Donald Rumsfeld, ex-Secretary of Defense.
March 2006: “In Venezuela, a demagogue full of oil money is undermining democracy and trying to destabilize the region.” – George W. Bush.
U.S. officials try to link Venezuela to Terrorism:
June 2006: “Venezuela’s cooperation in the international campaign against terrorism continues to be insignificant… It’s not clear to what point the Venezuelan government offered material support to Colombian terrorists.” – Annual Report on Terrorism, Department of State.
June 2006: The U.S. government through the Commerce Department and U.S. Treasury imposes sanctions against Venezuela for its alleged role in terrorism and prohibits the sale of military equipment to the country.
July 2006: “Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, has tolerated terrorists in its territory…” – Subcommittee on International Terrorism, House of Representatives.
U.S. increases its Military Presence in Latin America:
March-July 2006: The US military engages in four major exercises off the coast of Venezuela in the Caribbean Sea, with support from NATO, and based at the US air force base in Curaçao. A permanent military presence is established in the Dominican Republic and the bases in Curaçao and Aruba are reinforced.
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas establishes the “American Corners” in 5 Venezuelan States (Lara, Monagas, Bolívar, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta), to act as centers of propaganda, subversion, espionage and infiltration.
U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield intensifies his public hostility towards the Venezuelan government, making frequent sarcastic and unfriendly comments in opposition-controlled media.
NED and USAID increase funding to anti-government groups in Venezuela.
At the beginning of 2007, Venezuela is severely attacked in the international media & by U.S. government spokespersons for its decision to nationalize Cantv (the only national telephone company), the Electricity of Caracas and the Faja Orinoco oil fields.
In May 2007 the attack intensifies when the government decides not to renew the public broadcasting concession to popular opposition television station, RCTV.
A powerful international media campaign is initiated against Venezuela and President Chavez, referring to him as a dictator.
Private distributors and companies begin hoarding food and other essential consumer products in order to create shortages and panic amongst the population.
USAID, NED and the State Department via the Embassy in Caracas foment, fund and encourage the emergence of a right-wing youth movement and help to project its favorable image to the international community in order to distort the perception of President Chavez’s popularity amongst youth.
Groups such as Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Press Association and Reporters without Borders accuse Venezuela of violating human rights and freedom of expression.
September 2007: President George W. Bush classifies Venezuela as a nation “not cooperating” with the war against drug trafficking, for the third year in a row, imposing additional economic sanctions.
September 2007: Condoleezza Rice declares the U.S. is “concerned about the destructive populism” of Chavez.
January 2008: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces meets with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, then Minister of Defense Juan Manuel Santos, U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield and the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces Freddy Padilla de Leon and declares during a press conference that he is “concerned about the arms purchases made by Chavez” and expresses that this could “destabilize the region.”
John Walters, the U.S. Anti-Drug Czar meets with Uribe in Colombia, together with 5 U.S. congresspersons and Ambassador Brownfield, and declares Venezuela a nation “complicit with drug trafficking” that presents “a threat to the US and the region”. He also expresses his wish that the Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Colombia be ratified by Congress soon.
Condoleezza Rice visits Colombia, together with Sub-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon and 10 congress members from the democratic party to push the FTA and back Colombia in its conflict with Venezuela.
President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address emphasizes the importance of the FTA with Colombia alerts to the threat of “populist” and “undemocratic” governments in the region.
February 2008: SOUTHCOM sends the Navy’s “4th fleet” to the Caribbean Sea (a group of war ships, submarines and aircraft carriers that haven’t been in those waters since the Cold War).
The Director of National Intelligence, General Mike McConnell, publishes the Annual Threat Report, which classifies Venezuela as the “principal threat against the US in the hemisphere.”
Exxon-Mobil tries to “freeze” $12 billion of Venezuelan assets in London, Holland and the Dutch Antilles.
A Report on Present Threats to National Security of the Defense Intelligence Agency classifies Venezuela as a “national security threat” to the U.S.
A Department of State report accuses Venezuela of being a country that permits “the transit of illegal drugs”, “money laundering” and being “complicit with drug trafficking.”
The U.S. Department of Treasury classifies three high level Venezuelan officials as “drug kingpins”, presenting no formal evidence. The head of Venezuela’s military intelligence, General Hugo Carvajal, the head of Venezuela’s civil intelligence force, General Henry Rangel Silva, and former Minister of Interior and Justice, Ramon Rodriguez Chacin are sanctioned by the U.S. government and placed on a terrorist list.
Rear Admiral Joseph Nimmich, Director of the US Joint Interagency Task Force, meets in Bogota with the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces.
March 2008: The Colombian army invades Ecuadorian territory and assassinates Raul Reyes and a dozen others, including 4 Mexicans, at a FARC camp in the jungle near the border.
General Jorge Naranjo, Commander of Colombia’s National Police, declares that laptop computers rescued from the scene of the bombing that killed Reyes and others evidence that President Chavez gave more than $300 million to the FARC along with a quantity of uranium and weapons. No other evidence is produced or shown to the public. Ecuador is also accused of supporting the FARC.
Venezuela mobilizes troops to the border with Colombia.
The US Navy sends the Aircraft Carrier “Harry Truman” to the Caribbean Sea to engage in military exercises to prevent potential terrorist attacks and eventual conflicts in the region.
President Bush states the U.S. will defend Colombia against the “provocations” from Venezuela.
Uribe announces he will bring a claim before the International Criminal Court against President Chavez for “sponsoring genocide and terrorism”.
March: President Bush requests his team of lawyers and advisors review the possibility of placing Venezuela on the list of “STATE SPONSORS OF TERRORISM” together with Cuba, Iran, Syria and North Korea.
May: A document from the U.S. Air Force shows the construction of a U.S. military base in Palanquero, Colombia, to combat the “anti-American” governments in the region. The Palanquero base is part of the 7 military bases that the U.S. planned to build in Colombia under an agreement with the Colombian government for a ten-year period.
February: The U.S. Director of National Intelligence declares Venezuela the “anti-American leader” in the region in its annual report on worldwide threats.
February: The State Department authorizes more than $15 million via NED and USAID to anti-government groups in Venezuela.
June: A report from the FRIDE Institute in Spain, funded by NED, evidences that international agencies channel between $40-50 million a year to anti-government groups in Venezuela.
September: Washington ratifies sanctions against Venezuela for allegedly not cooperating with counter-narcotics efforts or the war on terror.
President Obama authorizes a special fund of $5 million in his annual budget to support anti-government groups in Venezuela. In 2015, Obama increases this amount to $5.5 million.
NED continues to fund anti-government groups in Venezuela with about $2 million annually.
Each year, the US government includes Venezuela on a list of countries that do not cooperate with counter-narcotics efforts or the war on terror. Also in its annual human rights report, the State Department classifies Venezuela as a “violator” of human rights.
Subsequent to President Chavez’s death from cancer on March 5, 2013, new elections are held and Nicolas Maduro wins the presidency. Opposition leaders hold violent demonstrations that result in the deaths of more than a dozen people.
In February 2014, the violent protests resume, led by Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, who openly call for the overthrow of President Maduro, and over 40 people are killed. Lopez turns himself in to authorities and faces charges for his role in the violence. The U.S. government calls for his immediate release.
In December 2014, President Obama imposed sanctions on more than 50 Venezuelan officials and their relatives, accusing them of violating human rights and engaging in corruption. No evidence has been presented to date to support these serious allegations. The Commerce Department also expanded sanctions against Venezuela, prohibiting the sale of “any products” that could be destined for “military use” due to alleged human rights violations committed by the Venezuelan Armed Forces.
January 2015: Vice President Joe Biden warns Caribbean countries that the government of President Nicolas Maduro will soon be “defeated” and therefore they should abandon their discounted oil program with Venezuela, PetroCaribe.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemns the alleged “criminalization of political dissent” in Venezuela.
February 2015: President Obama unveils his new National Security Strategy and names Venezuela as a threat and stresses support for Venezuelan “citizens” living in a country where “democracy is at risk.”
Anti-government leaders circulate a document for a “transitional government agreement” which warns President Maduro’s government is in its “final stage” and pledges to overhaul the entire government and socialist system in place, replacing it with a neoliberal, pro-business model. The document is signed by Maria Corina Machado, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, mayor of Metropolitan Caracas.
Days later, a coup plot against President Nicolas Maduro is thwarted and 10 active Venezuelan military officers are detained. Antonio Ledezma is arrested and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the government and the U.S. State Department issues a harsh condemnation of his detention, calling on regional governments to take action against the Maduro administration.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest denies any U.S. government role in the coup attempt against Maduro, calling such allegations “ludicrous”, but further reveals, “The Treasury Department and the State Department are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that we believe they should be headed.”
GMP product photo
The latest NCRI revelations of a new “Lavizan 3″ facility has been sent to the right wing and pro-war media and has been playing in the US non-stop. The group claims it has photo of a “steel door” designed to prevent radiation leaks. (Washington Post).
The report feature only one singular picture as proof, they say was taken from an underground bunker that is “anti nuclear radiation”. But the picture is from an Iranian safe company GMP It’s a product shot for their “explosive resistant” door.
Page 10 of NCRI Report, Feb 24, 2015
The NCRI is a front organization controlled by the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), a violent terrorist organization at war with Iran. It has targeted and killed many civilians including American citizens since the 1960’s. The group was listed as a terrorist organization until 2012 in the United States.
The cult-like group has also perpetrated human rights abuses against its own members. But in the post-Iraq invasion era, it has become a vocal supporter of military action by US and Israel. MEK participated in assassination of Iranian scientists and has an established relationship with Israel. Read this National Interest article for some of the details.
The US definition of assassination in a 1953 instruction manual includes that assassination is “the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer”, “whose death provides positive advantages” to the organization that performs the killing.
All conceivable methods for carrying out and hiding or publicizing assassinations, depending on the situation, have long been conceived by US militants. The following is a brief sample of tips and tricks advised by the US:
Orders for secret assassinations will never “be written or recorded.”
“All planning must be mental; no papers should ever contain evidence of the operation.”
Discussion of the assassination will be “confined to an absolute minimum of persons. Ideally, only one person will be involved.”
“Except in terroristic assassinations”, in which publicity is necessary for psychological effect, the assassin “should have an absolute minimum of contact with the rest of the organization and his instructions should be given orally by one person only.” This leaves no tracks and helps keep the operation secret, confined to an inner circle of the most vetted, reliable killers.
Sometimes, to help conceal the act, an unwitting person is to be used and “killed with the subject”. These types of operations are called “lost”.
In lost operations, the US advises using mentally unstable individuals, or “fanatics”, who can be used, killed in the operation, and blamed entirely, allowing the US to deny involvement.
“In lost assassination, the assassin must be a fanatic of some sort. Politics, religion, and revenge are about the only feasible motives. Since a fanatic is unstable psychologically, he must be handled with extreme care. He must not know the identities of the other members of the organization, for although it is intended that he die in the act, something may go wrong.”
When it is desired that a killing is not revealed as an assassination, “the contrived accident is the most effective technique.”
“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface.”
The assassin can then play the “horrified witness”, so that “no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary”.
Sometimes, as in the US assassination of civil rights leader Fred Hampton, it will be necessary to “drug the subject” before killing him.
Particularly if “the subject is under medical care”, killing him or her with “drugs can be very effective”. “An overdose of morphine administered as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect.” (The US has since also been documented to have a gun that can shoot people with undetectable poisons that “caused heart attacks and cancer.”)
When firearms are used, they should be selected to “provide destructive power at least 100% in excess of that thought to be necessary”.
But since their “possession is often incriminating” and they “may be difficult to obtain”, often a “hammer”, “baseball ball”, or a “heavy stick” is preferable to a firearm, especially due to “universal availability” of such objects. With these, blows need simply “be directed to the temple, the area just below and behind the ear, and the lower, rear portion of the skull. Of course, if the blow is very heavy, any portion of the upper skull will do.”
Using machine guns for assassination will usually “require the subversion of a unit of an official guard at a ceremony, though a skillful and determined team might conceivably dispose of a loyal gun crow [sic] without commotion and take over the gun at the critical time.”
If a shotgun is used the “barrel may be ‘sawed’ off for convenience”.
“The sound of the explosion of the proponent in a firearm can be effectively silenced by appropriate attachments”, though the use of silencers has been hyped beyond their effectiveness.
When Obama chooses to publicize his assassinations by intentionally leaking information about them to the press, they are thus here defined by the US as “terroristic”.
On using explosives for assassinations, the manual states that “in terroristic and open assassination[s]” like many of Obama’s, bombs “can provide safety” for the assassin and “overcome guard barriers” – and this was long before today’s advancements in remote-controlled bomb detonation, a method favored by Obama for executing suspects.
The manual states that one consideration when using explosives for assassination is the “moral” dilemma involved in “indiscriminate killing” of “casual bystanders”, though this has apparently been little deterrent for Obama, who, since entering office, has further relaxed official US standards on knowingly killing civilians.
Here is historian William Blum’s list of US assassinations or attempted assassinations of major leaders of foreign governments since 1945, when the US became the world’s dominant organization:
- 1949 – Kim Koo, Korean opposition leader
- 1950s – CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list of more than 200 political figures in West Germany to be “put out of the way” in the event of a Soviet invasion
- 1950s – Chou En-lai, Prime minister of China, several attempts on his life
- 1950s, 1962 – Sukarno, President of Indonesia
- 1951 – Kim Il Sung, Premier of North Korea
- 1953 – Mohammed Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran
- 1950s (mid) – Claro M. Recto, Philippines opposition leader
- 1955 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
- 1957 – Gamal Abdul Nasser, President of Egypt
- 1959, 1963, 1969 – Norodom Sihanouk, leader of Cambodia
- 1960 – Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Kassem, leader of Iraq
- 1950s-70s – José Figueres, President of Costa Rica, two attempts on his life
- 1961 – Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, leader of Haiti
- 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo (Zaire)
- 1961 – Gen. Rafael Trujillo, leader of Dominican Republic
- 1963 – Ngo Dinh Diem, President of South Vietnam
- 1960s-70s – Fidel Castro, President of Cuba, many attempts on his life
- 1960s – Raúl Castro, high official in government of Cuba
- 1965 – Francisco Caamaño, Dominican Republic opposition leader
- 1965-6 – Charles de Gaulle, President of France
- 1967 – Che Guevara, Cuban leader
- 1970 – Salvador Allende, President of Chile
- 1970 – Gen. Rene Schneider, Commander-in-Chief of Army, Chile
- 1970s, 1981 – General Omar Torrijos, leader of Panama
- 1972 – General Manuel Noriega, Chief of Panama Intelligence
- 1975 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire
- 1976 – Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica
- 1980-1986 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya, several plots and attempts upon his life
- 1982 – Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of Iran
- 1983 – Gen. Ahmed Dlimi, Moroccan Army commander
- 1983 – Miguel d’Escoto, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua
- 1984 – The nine comandantes of the Sandinista National Directorate
- 1985 – Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanese Shiite leader (80 people killed in the attempt)
- 1991 – Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq
- 1993 – Mohamed Farah Aideed, prominent clan leader of Somalia
- 1998, 2001-2 – Osama bin Laden, leading Islamic militant
- 1999 – Slobodan Milosevic, President of Yugoslavia
- 2002 – Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Afghan Islamic leader and warlord
- 2003 – Saddam Hussein and his two sons
- 2011 – Muammar Qaddafi, leader of Libya
Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and also writes professionally for the film industry. Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 statement at the UN, in which he warned the world of Iran being too close to making a nuclear bomb, allegedly contradicted his country’s intelligence assessments, according to leaked spy documents.
Netanyahu famously declared to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2012 that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its “plans to build a nuclear weapon,” and drew another “red line” at 90 percent, claiming Tehran’s first bomb would be ready “by next spring, at most by next summer.”
However, leaked Mossad documents suggest the country was much further from such development.
According to Spy Cables – a cache of hundreds of leaked secret intelligence papers from all over the world, published by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit in collaboration with the Guardian newspaper – at the time of Netanyahu’s statement, Israel’s intelligence service concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons,” estimating that Iran had 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to a level of 20 percent.
“Even though Iran has accumulated enough 5 percent enriched uranium for several bombs, and has enriched some of it to 20 percent, it does not appear to be ready to enrich it to higher levels. It is allocating some of it to produce nuclear fuel for the TRR [Tehran Research Reactor], and the amount of 20 percent enriched uranium is therefore not increasing,” said the secret report, which Mossad shared with South Africa’s State Security Agency a few weeks after the prime minister’s UN speech.
With world leaders worried by a possible nuclear threat, a series of political decisions led to Iran’s consent to neutralize or destroy its enriched uranium under an agreement with the US, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany – the so-called P5+1 group.
Talks between world leaders on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and uranium enrichment capacity have taken place since sanctions were imposed on Tehran in 2012.
Iran insists it has no nuclear weapons ambitions and seeks enrichment capabilities to develop reactor fuel, and for other peaceful purposes. However, the West believes Tehran has been using its civilian atomic energy program as a cover for developing a bomb.
Since the parties failed to reach a conclusion by the previous deadline of November last year, Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers carry on. Iran and P5+1 countries are expected to reach a basic framework agreement by the end of March, with a final accord due by June 30. Netanyahu plans to address the US Congress next month to once again warn against a nuclear compromise with Tehran.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations in 1988 and has been trying very hard to demonstrate the threat of a dangerous human influence on climate due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This is in line with their Charter, which directs the IPCC to assemble reports in support of the Global Climate Treaty — the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) of Rio de Janeiro.
It is interesting that IPCC “evidence” was based on peer-reviewed publications – but (reluctantly) abandoned only after protracted critiques from outside scientists. E-mails among members of the IPCC team, revealed in the 2009 ‘Climategate’ leak, describe their strenuous efforts to silence such critiques, often using unethical methods.
I will show here that the first three IPCC assessment reports contain erroneous scientific arguments, which have never been retracted or formally corrected, but at least have now been abandoned by the IPCC — while the last two reports, AR4 and AR5, use an argument that seems to be circular and does not support their conclusion. Australian Prof. “Bob” Carter, marine geologist and paleo-climatologist, refers to IPCC as using “hocus-pocus” science. He is a co-author of the latest (2013) NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) report “Climate Change Reconsidered-II” www.climatechangereconsidered.org . We also co-authored a critique of the 2013 IPCC-AR5 Summary.
1. IPCC-AR1 (1990)
This first report of the IPCC bases its entire claim for AGW on the fact that both CO2 and surface temperatures increased during the 20th century — although not in lock-step. They assign the major warming of 1910 to 1940 to a human influence — based on a peer-reviewed paper by BD Santer and TML Wigley, which uses a very strange statistical argument. But the basis of their statistics has been critiqued (by Tsonis and Swanson) — and I have demonstrated empirically elsewhere that their conclusion does not hold.
While this faulty paper has never been retracted, it is now no longer quoted as evidence by the IPCC — nor accepted by the overwhelming majority of IPCC scientists: Most if not all warming of the early 20th century is due to natural, not human causes.
2. IPCC AR2 (1996)
This report devotes a whole chapter, #8, to “Attribution and Detection.” Its main feature is what one might call the “invention” of the “Hotspot,” i.e. an enhanced warming trend in the tropical troposphere — never actually observed.
Unfortunately, the “evidence,” as presented by BD Santer, was published only after the IPCC report itself appeared; it contains two fundamental errors. The first error was to argue that the Hotspot is a “fingerprint” of human influence — and specifically, related to an increase in greenhouse gases. This is not true. The Hotspot, according to all model calculations, is simply an atmospheric amplification of a surface trend, a consequence of the physics of the tropical atmosphere.
[Technically speaking, it is caused by increased convective activity whereby cumulus clouds carry latent heat from the surface of the tropical ocean into the upper troposphere. In other words, the Hotspot is not human-caused, but arises from a “moist-adiabatic lapse rate” of the atmosphere. This effect is discussed in most meteorological textbooks and is widely accepted.]
How then did AR2 conclude that a Hotspot exists observationally? This is the second issue: The IPCC selected a short interval in the atmospheric temperature record that showed an increase — while the general trend was one of cooling. In other words, they cherry-picked their data to invent a Hotspot — as pointed out in a subsequent publication by PJ Michaels and PC Knappenberger [see graph below]
The matter of the existence of a Hotspot in the actual tropical troposphere has been the topic of lively debate ever since. On the one hand, DH Douglass, JR Christy, BD Pearson and SF Singer, demonstrated absence of a Hotspot empirically while Santer (and 17[!] IPCC coauthors), publishing in the same journal, argued the opposite. This issue now seems to have been finally settled, as discussed by Singer in two papers in Energy & Environment [2011 and 2013].
It is worth noting that a US government report [CCSP-SAP-1.1 (2006)] showed absence of a Hotspot in the tropics (Chapter 5, BD Santer, lead author). But the report’s Executive Summary managed to obfuscate this result by referring to global atmosphere rather than tropical.
It is also worth noting that while the IPCC-AR2 used the Hotspot invention to argue that the “balance of evidence suggest a human influence,” later IPCC reports no longer use the Hotspot argument.
Nevertheless, one consequence of this unfortunate phrase in AR2 has been the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Even though Kyoto expired in 2012, it has managed to waste hundreds of billions of dollars so far — and continues to distort energy policies with uneconomic schemes in most industrialized nations.
3. IPCC AR3 (2001)
AR3 attributes global warming to human influences based on the “Hockey-Stick” graph, using published papers by Michael Mann, derived from his analysis of multi-proxy data. The hockeystick graph [bottom graph below] claims that the 20th century showed unusually rapid warming — and thus suggests a strong human influence. The graph also does away with the well-established Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age, which were shown in earlier IPCC reports [see top graph below].
It was soon found that the Hockeystick graph was in error and did not deserve continued reliance. Canadian statisticians Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick demonstrated errors in Mann’s statistical analysis and in the use of certain tree-ring data for calibration. In fact, they showed that Mann’s algorithm would generate a Hockeystick graph — even if the input data was pure noise. [I served as a reviewer for M&M’s initial paper in Energy & Environment 2003.]
It is worth noting that the IPCC no longer uses the Hockeystick to support human-caused warming, even though AR3 still claims to be at least 66% certain that greenhouse-gas emissions are responsible for 20th century warming.
4. IPCC-AR4 (2007) and AR5 (2013)
Both reports use essentially the same faulty argument in their attempt to support their conclusion of human-caused global warming. Their first step is to construct a model that tries to match the reported 20th-century surface warming. This is not very difficult; it is essentially a ‘curve-fitting’ exercise: By selecting the right level of climate sensitivity and the right amount of aerosol forcing, they can match the reported temperature rise of the final decades of the 20th century, but not the initial decades — as becomes evident from a detailed graph in their Attribution chapter. This lack of agreement is due to the fact that their models ignore major forcings — both from variations of solar activity and from changes in ocean circulation.They then use the following trick. They re-plot their model graph, but without an increase in greenhouse gases; this absence of forcing now generates a gap between the reported warming and unforced model. Then they turn around and argue that this gap must be due to an increase in greenhouse gases. It appears to me that this argument may be circular. Even if the reported late-20th-century surface warming really exists (it is absent from the satellite and radiosonde records), the IPCC argument is not convincing.
It is ironic, however, that IPCC claims increasing certainty (at 90% in AR4 and at least 95% in AR5) for an attribution to human causes, which appears to be contrived. Additionally, while AR4 calculates a Climate Sensitivity (for a doubling of CO2) of 2.0 – 4.5 degC, AR5 expands the uncertainty interval to 1.5 – 4.5 degC. So much for the claim of increased certainty in the IPCC-AR5 Summary.
Yet, while claiming increased certainty about manmade global warming, both reports essentially ignore the absence of any surface warming trend since about 1998. Of course, they also ignore absence of any significant warming in the troposphere, ocean record, and proxy data during the crucial preceding (1979-1997) interval.
In spite of much effort, the IPCC has never succeeded in demonstrating that climate change is significantly affected by human activities — and in particular, by the emission of greenhouse gases. Over the last 25 years, their supporting arguments have shifted drastically — and are shown to be worthless. It appears more than likely that climate change is controlled by variations in solar magnetic activity and by periodic changes in ocean circulation.
[Full disclosure: I have a very small dog in this fight, having demonstrated some time ago that solar-emitted magnetic fields, projected into interplanetary space by the solar wind, modulate the intensity of cosmic rays striking the Earth’s atmosphere; this is no longer a contentious, hot-topic issue. The exact mechanism by which cosmic rays then influence the climate is not known in detail, but current efforts, mainly by a Danish research group, focus on changes in Earth’s cloudiness.]
However, that there is no doubt about the existence of such a solar influence on climate. As shown in the graph below, cosmic-ray intensity (as measured by the radioactive carbon isotope C-14) and terrestrial climate (as measured by the oxygen isotope O-18) correlate in amazing detail over an interval of at least 3000 years (see graph below; the bottom graph is the central section, blown up to reveal detail)
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics.
The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s nuclear program contains much that is worth emphasizing. Iran is continuing to account for all its declared nuclear material (and the agency appears to have no reason to suspect the existence of undeclared nuclear material). Iran is also continuing to comply fully with the commitments it made to the United States and others on November 24, 2013 and which it has renewed since.
Much of the commentary on the report on Iran will inevitably highlight Iran’s continuing failure to resolve two concerns the IAEA raised in May 2014. I, however, am surprised, that the IAEA director general omits all mention of two Iranian attempts, since the last IAEA report in mid-November, to address those and some other allegations that the IAEA is investigating.
On December 2, Reuters reported that in a statement to the IAEA Iran had rejected accusations that it was stonewalling IAEA investigations. Instead, Iran had affirmed that it had given the IAEA “pieces of evidence” indicating that documents adduced by the IAEA as reasons for concern were “full of mistakes and contain fake names with specific pronunciations which only point towards a certain IAEA member as their forger.” (The member Iran probably had in mind was Israel).
Yet there is no mention whatsoever of this Iranian rebuttal in the latest report, still less any detailed IAEA rebuttal of the rebuttal. Instead, the director general resorts to an exceptionally bland (and in the circumstances misleading) phrase: “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the two outstanding practical measures [concerns].”
In effect Iran is being asked to prove its innocence. But when it tries to do so, the evidence it submits is rejected out of hand because it calls into question the evidence that is being used to justify the suspicion of guilt. Is that consistent with due process?
Also surprising is the omission of any mention of Iran’s offer of access to a suspected nuclear site at Marivan, reported by Reuters on December 11. A controversial annex to the IAEA’s November 2011 report referred to one member state having informed the agency that major high-explosives tests were conducted at Marivan in the first part of the last decade.
Since the IAEA has not taken Iran up on the offer, it presumably believes that a visit to Marivan would serve no useful purpose. If that is the case, do they not owe it to Iran to withdraw the November 2011 charge relating to Marivan? If the agency isn’t arranging a site visit, it should explain to IAEA member states that it considers the information provided by “a member state” to have been unreliable or irrelevant.
I raise these questions not to criticise the IAEA secretariat, which continues to do a first-class job in Iran, as professional and objective as ever. Rather, I want to offset the hue and cry that opponents of a nuclear deal will raise over the reference in the latest report to Iran’s failure to provide explanations. I’m suggesting that there is more to this than meets the eye.
Turning back to the positive, Iran is continuing to allow exceptional access to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops, and storage facilities. This access has enabled the IAEA to conclude that centrifuge rotor manufacturing and assembly are consistent with Iran’s replacement program for failed centrifuges. In other words, Iran is not manufacturing and diverting rotors to some clandestine enrichment facility.
This is highly significant. Amid the endless furor over the number of centrifuges that Iran should retain under a comprehensive agreement, the public could be forgiven for failing to appreciate that, theoretically, Iran is far more likely to “sneak out”—using a clandestine enrichment facility—than to “break out” under the eyes of IAEA inspectors, using the centrifuges it wants to retain.
I inserted “theoretically” to emphasize that at this point there is no evidence that Iran intends either to break out or to sneak out. And as long as the IAEA retains access to Iran’s rotor manufacturing, assembly, and storage facilities—which it will lose if the opponents of a deal have their way—we can all feel confident of a continuing absence of intention.
In essence, the latest IAEA report contains nothing that would justify the United States and its allies declining to close a deal with Iran in the course of the coming four weeks. I, for one, am rooting for their success.
Peter Jenkins was a British career diplomat for 33 years, following studies at the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard. He served in Vienna (twice), Washington, Paris, Brasilia and Geneva. He specialized in global economic and security issues. His last assignment (2001-06) was that of UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN (Vienna).
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“Islam and the West at War,” reads a recent New York Times headline.
It would certainly seem that way if one were to take at face value the putrid assertions of Western governments that are not particularly known for their honesty or integrity. But astute observers of history and geopolitics can spot a deception when they see one, and the latest theatrical performances being marketed to the masses as real, organic occurrences remind one of a Monty Python sketch.
In the past week we have witnessed a number of expedient events that were designed to legitimize the West’s imperialist foreign policies in the minds of the masses. On Feb. 15 the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) released another highly choreographed and visually striking video allegedly depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Shortly following the video’s release, the Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sissi launched air strikes against ISIS targets in Libya where the execution video was allegedly filmed, although experts are now saying that the production was faked.
ISIS’s continued provocations in the form of carefully crafted, emotionally impactful execution videos (real or faked), such as the recent immolation of a caged Jordanian pilot, cannot possibly be the work of rational actors seeking a military victory in any capacity. The videos only ever work to ISIS’s disadvantage, solidifying the resolve of their current ‘coalition’ opponents as well as creating new enemies upon every release.
Sixty-two countries and groups are presently fighting in the dubious ‘coalition’ against ISIS, most of which have modern militaries with advanced air and ground forces. Why in the world does ISIS continue to entice more countries to join the already over-crowded alliance against them? Why a group that purports to want to establish a ‘state’ which will ostensibly govern millions of people is deliberately seeking more and more enemies and a constant state of war with them beggars belief.
Does ISIS think it can do battle with the whole planet and achieve victory, culminating in world domination? How do people who harbor such ridiculous delusions have the wherewithal and resources at their disposal to organize and recruit thousands of fighters from around the world to an utterly ludicrous cause doomed to sheer failure? How can this be anything but a contrived prank of an operation?
The only logical conclusion that many analysts have come to is that ISIS does not represent a grassroots, organic movement, but rather operates entirely as a cat’s paw of Western foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, which is concurrently under the domination of Israel. ISIS’s actions expressly benefit Muslims least of all and Israel/the West most of all, the extent of which increases with every new atrocity and outrage ISIS inflicts upon innocents in Iraq and Syria that gets endless play in Western media. In fact, the Western media’s obsession with ISIS is in and of itself an effective form of PR for the group. Western media outlets are consciously performing an unqualified service for ISIS’s recruiting efforts by affording the terrorist group ‘premium level branding’ that will attract criminally-inclined degenerates, Wahhabist religious zealots and disaffected, suicidal lowlifes from around the world to join a cause predestined to abject failure.
This senile ‘ISIS vs. The World’ spectacle is little more than a melodramatic screenplay engineered in a boardroom by professional propagandists and marketing aficionados. It resembles a classic ‘problem, reaction, solution’ dialectic of deceit. Who in their right mind believes the rancid mythology surrounding this orchestrated ‘good vs. evil’ Hollywood blockbuster?
Proxy Warriors: Cannon Fodder for the Empire
The West is not sincerely at odds with ISIS nor is it seeking to “degrade and destroy” the group, as US President Barrack Obama claims. One piece of information that undermines this good cop/bad cop puppet show is the West’s clandestine support of ISIS beginning with the artificial uprising in Libya. In 2011, the West openly sought to depose Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, and did so by backing ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups to do it. The maniac rebels who sodomized and then murdered Gaddafi in the street like a dog were hailed as ‘freedom fighters’ by the repellant thugs in Washington, Paris and London, and were fully aided and abetted with NATO air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces. The rebel victory in Libya was only made possible through Western military intervention. “We came, we saw, he died,” said Obama’s former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in reference to the assassination of Gaddafi by Washington’s foot soldiers, cackling like a witch at the demise of the Libyan potentate.
In a Nov. 19, 2014, article for Global Research, analyst Tony Cartalucci noted that the “so-called ‘rebels’ NATO had backed [in Libya] were revealed to be terrorists led by Al Qaeda factions including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).” During the manufactured ‘uprising’ Gaddafi routinely declared in public speeches that al-Qaeda was leading the way. “Gaddafi blames uprising on al-Qaeda,” read one Al Jazeera headline from February 2011. A March 2011 Guardian report spoke of how “hundreds of convicted members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an al-Qaida affiliate, have been freed and pardoned” under a “reform and repent” program headed by Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam. The same article acknowledged that the LIFG, which was established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, “has assassinated dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen” since its founding and that Britain’s MI6 had previously supported the group. That group formed the backbone of the anti-Gaddafi insurgency, and received all manner of support from the West and allied Gulf sheikhdoms.
In the aforesaid Global Research article, Cartalucci outlines how the synthetic insurrection in Libya was spearheaded by al-Qaeda franchises that were later subsumed into ISIS. A February 2015 CNN report entitled “ISIS finds support in Libya” revealed that since the fall of Gaddafi, ISIS has established a large and menacing presence throughout the North African country. “The black flag of ISIS flies over government buildings,” according to CNN’s reportage. “Police cars carry the group’s insignia. The local football stadium is used for public executions.” It adds that, “Fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are now in complete control of the city of Derna, population of about 100,000, not far from the Egyptian border and just about 200 miles from the southern shores of the European Union.”
NATO effectively carpet-bombed Libya into rubble, paving a path of blood for ISIS and al-Qaeda death squads to seize power and institute their medieval ideology. That’s the reward for falling afoul of ‘the West’ and whatever drives it. Cartalucci further proved in another report entitled “Libyan Terrorists Are Invading Syria” that as soon as Gaddafi’s regime collapsed and rebel gangs emerged triumphant, thousands of battle-hardened and fanatical jihadist fighters took their Western training and weapons over to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad in accordance with Washington’s ‘bait and switch’ scheme. Apparently, these hired mercenaries behave a lot like wild dogs chasing a piece of raw meat.
An absolutely identical scenario unfolded in Syria where Washington and its regional puppets led by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been subsidizing the Islamist guerrillas from the outset. “Do you know of any major Arab ally of the US that embraces ISIL?” US Senator Lindsey Graham facetiously asked General Martin Dempsey at a Senate Armed Services Committee in 2014. To Graham’s surprise, Dempsey responded: “I know major Arab allies who fund them.” US Vice President Joe Biden himself confirmed this in an October 2014 speech wherein he told students at Harvard University that America’s Gulf allies – the Saudis and Qataris especially – were backing ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda affiliate) with substantive sums of arms and funds. A former US General, Thomas McInerney, told Fox News that the US government helped “build ISIS” by “backing some of the wrong people” and by facilitating weapons to al-Qaeda-linked Libyan rebels which ended up in the hands of ISIS militants in Syria. Retired US General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Wesley Clark, repeated this view in a February 2015 interview with CNN, saying that “ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies [in the Gulf]” who sought to use religious fanatics to assail the Shia alliance of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. “It’s like a Frankenstein,” he concluded.
A June 17, 2014, World Net Daily report highlights how Americans trained Syrian rebels who later joined ISIS in a secret base located in Jordan. Jordanian officials told WND’s Aaron Klein that “dozens of future ISIS members were trained [in a US run training facility in Jordan] at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.” Reports in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, Reuters and other mainstream outlets all confirmed that the US, Britain, France and their regional allies were training militants in secret bases in Jordan and Turkey as part of the West’s proxy war against the Assad regime.
The West has attempted to cover-up its support of ISIS and al-Qaeda elements by running a ‘two degrees of separation’ gambit. Washington claims to only provide support to ‘moderate, vetted’ rebel groupings, namely the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but this amounts to a calculated ruse to confound the credulous masses. FSA is the nom de gerre of a loose collection of rebel bandits who don’t operate under a central command framework or authority, rather acting independently or under the umbrella of other factions. Aron Lund, an expert on Syrian rebel groups, discerned in a March 2013 article titled “The Free Syrian Army Doesn’t Exist” that from the very beginning the FSA has been nothing more than a fictional branding operation.
During the initial stages of the insurgency, any militant faction in Syria looking for Western military aid called itself FSA and then took the weapons they received from the West straight to ISIS and Jahbat al-Nusra. The FSA functions as a conduit between Western governments and the Takfiri terrorists fighting Assad as well as an arms distribution network for them. In the aforesaid article, Lund explains that the FSA’s General Staff was set up in Turkey in 2012 “as a flag to rally the Western/Gulf-backed factions around, and probably also a funding channel and an arms distribution network, rather than as an actual command hierarchy.” Thousands of militants fighting under the FSA rubric have since joined or pledged allegiance to ISIS and al-Nusra.
Western governments know this and are apparently totally comfortable with it, revealing their bare complicity and collaboration with the Takfiri insurgents hell-bent on beheading their way to power in Syria and Iraq.
The Counterfeit Campaign
This inevitably creates confusion for people not studied in imperial geopolitics, especially after the West and its Gulf allies ‘declared war’ on ISIS in late 2014. The counterfeit campaign cannot be seen as anything other than a convenient, disingenuous volte-face maneuver designed to whitewash all of the aforementioned facts about the West’s dirty hands behind ISIS. Average plebs who receive all of their information from TV news channels won’t know about the West’s clandestine activities that effectively spawned ISIS and facilitated its rise to prominence in Iraq, Syria and Libya, so they will naturally take the West’s phony confrontation with ISIS at face value.
The West’s crusade to “degrade and destroy” ISIS is a preposterous hoax. In fact, evidence suggests that the West continues to covertly support ISIS with airdrops of weapons and supplies, whilst concurrently ‘bombing’ them in sketchy and deliberately ineffective air strikes.
Iran’s President Hassan Rohani called the US-led anti-ISIS coalition ‘a joke’ considering how many of its participants significantly helped bolster the terrorist group since its inception. In a January 2015 report, Iran’s Fars News Agency quotes a number of Iranian generals and Iraqi MPs who believe that the US is continuing to surreptitiously support ISIS with airdrops of weapons caches and other supplies. General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, a commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) Force, said that the US embassy in Baghdad is the “command center” for ISIS in the country. “The US directly supports the ISIL in Iraq and the US planes drop the needed aids and weapons for ISIL,” General Naqdi told a group of Basij forces in Tehran. Fars News cited Majid al-Gharawia, an Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Commission MP, who said that the US are supplying ISIS with weapons and ammunition in a number of Iraqi jurisdictions.
An Iraqi security commission spoke of unidentified aircraft making drops to ISIS militants in Tikrit. Another senior Iraqi lawmaker, Nahlah al-Hababi, echoed these claims about US planes and other unidentified aircraft making deliveries to ISIS. She opined that, “The international coalition is not serious about air strikes on ISIL terrorists and is even seeking to take out the popular Basij (voluntary) forces from the battlefield against the Takfiris so that the problem with ISIL remains unsolved in the near future.” General Massoud Jazayeri, the Deputy Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, called the US-led coalition against ISIS a farce. “The US and the so-called anti-ISIL coalition claim that they have launched a campaign against this terrorist and criminal group – while supplying them with weapons, food and medicine in Jalawla region (a town in Diyala Governorate, Iraq). This explicitly displays the falsity of the coalition’s and the US’ claims,” the general said.
The US military claims these air deliveries are mistakenly ending up in ISIS’s possession and that they were intended for Kurdish fighters, but such a ridiculous assertion rings hollow among the true opponents of ISIS – Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Shiite volunteers in Iraq. Meanwhile, the laughable nature of Washington’s anti-ISIS gambit is underscored by the fact that its initial air strikes against ISIS’s stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, in September 2014 did little more than destroy a bunch of empty buildings. CNN let slip that ISIS fighters had evacuated their command centers in the city 15 to 20 days before US air strikes commenced, indicating that they were probably tipped off. A Syrian opposition activist told ARA News that “the targeted places [in Raqqa], especially refineries, were set on fire, pointing out that IS militants evacuated their strongholds in the last two days to avoid the U.S.-led strikes.”
The Hidden Hand of Zionism
The sham rebellion in Syria was devised and executed by outsiders to serve a nefarious anti-Syrian agenda. All of this seems very confusing if one doesn’t take into consideration the destructive proclivities of the state of Israel in the region.
Israel has essentially used the United States as a cat’s paw in the Middle East, manipulating America’s Leviathan military to smash up her enemies. The formidable Israeli lobby inside the US and its neoconservative lackeys who are a dominant force in the war-making apparatus of the US Military Industrial Complex is a key factor driving the Washington foreign policy establishment’s intransigent approach to the Middle East. When it comes to Middle East policy, the Israelis always get their way. “America is a thing you can move very easily… in the right direction,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu once bragged. “Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We control America,” the former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon boasted.
The destruction of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Egypt and other Middle Eastern and North African states is a long-standing Zionist policy plan dating back to the 1950s. In 1982 a stunning Israeli strategy paper was published which outlined with remarkable candor a vast conspiracy to weaken, subjugate and ultimately destroy all of Israel’s military rivals. The document was called “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” authored by Oded Yinon, a prominent thinker in Israeli Likud circles. In the vein of the Ottoman millet system, Yinon envisioned the dissolution of Israel’s neighbors and a new Middle East made up of fractured and fragmented Arab/Muslim countries divided into multiple polities along ethnic and religious lines. In Yinon’s mind, the less unified the Arabs and Muslims are the better for Israel’s designs. Better yet, have the Arabs and Muslims fight each other over land and partition themselves into obscurity. Yinon suggests a way to accomplish this, primarily by instigating civil strife in the Arab/Muslim countries which will eventually lead to their dismemberment.
In the document, Yinon specifically recommended:
Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi’ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.
He later singled out Iraq as Israel’s most formidable enemy at the time, and outlined its downfall in these terms:
Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.
Yinon’s vision seems to be unfolding rapidly in Iraq which is today on the verge of partition with the Sunni extremists of ISIS seizing vast swaths of territory for their ‘caliphate’ and the Northern Kurds still battling for independence from Baghdad which is ruled by a Shia clique headed by Haider al-Abadi and Nour al-Maliki. Syria too looks to be falling victim to Yinon’s venomous whims as ISIS has wrested control of large chunks of Syrian territory and presently enforces its brutal sectarianism on the Eastern population of the country.
The themes and ideas in Yinon’s Machiavellian manifesto are still held dear today by the Likudnik rulers in Israel and their neocon patrons in the West. Pro-Israel neocons basically replicated Yinon’s proposals in a 1996 strategy paper intended as advice for Benjamin Netanyahu, although in less direct language. Their report titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” spoke of “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq” as an “important Israeli strategic objective” that serves as a means of weakening Syria. The Clean Break authors advised that Israel should militarily engage Hezbollah, Syria and Iran along its Northern border. They go on to suggest air strikes on Syrian targets in Lebanon as well as inside Syria-proper. They also stipulate that, “Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.”
These neocon recommendations seem to be playing out today like a perfectly gauged game of chess. The Syria crisis has unveiled Israel’s plans for destabilizing the region to their benefit. At many points since the unrest in Syria began in 2011, Israel has conducted air strikes on Syrian military sites, just as the Clean Break criminals encouraged. In a January 2015 interview with Foreign Affairs magazine, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad made note of Israel’s incessant attacks against Syrian army installations during the conflict: “[Tel Aviv is] supporting the rebels in Syria. It’s very clear. Because whenever we make advances in some place, they make an attack in order to undermine the army.” Assad further described Israel as “al-Qaeda’s air force.”
Israel’s support of the Takfiri militants inside Syria goes beyond periodic air strikes in their favor. According to a 2014 UN report, Israel has been providing sanctuary and hospital care to thousands of anti-Assad terrorists, including those of ISIS and al-Nusra, and then dispatching them back into the fight. A Russia Today report on the issue headlined “UN details Israel helping Syrian rebels at Golan Heights” noted: “Israeli security forces have kept steady contacts with the Syrian rebels over the past 18 months, mainly treating wounded fighters but possibly supplying them with arms, UN observers at the Israeli-Syrian border reported.”
Israel’s gains in this situation are manifold. Tel Aviv has been using the fog of war to weaken its primary adversary in Damascus and consequently draw its other foes – Iran and Hezbollah – into the quandary, thereby diminishing their collective resolve to fight Israel itself. The Zionist regime not only views the Takfiris of ISIS and al-Nusra as a “lesser enemy,” but also as proxy mercenaries against Damascus, a strategy explicated in the neocons’ Clean Break document. In fact, Tel Aviv doesn’t view the Takfiris as much of a threat at all; a point that was validated by ISIS itself which declared that it is “not interested” in fighting Israel. “ISIS: Fighting ‘Infidels’ Takes Precedence Over Fighting Israel,” reads an August 2014 headline in Arutz Sheva, an Israeli news outlet.
The former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, substantiated all of this in a September 2013 interview with the Jerusalem Post. “’Bad guys’ backed by Iran are worse for Israel than ‘bad guys’ who are not supported by the Islamic Republic,” he told the Post, adding that the “greatest danger” to Israel is “the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc. That is a position we had well before the outbreak of hostilities in Syria. With the outbreak of hostilities we continued to want Assad to go.” Oren further remarked with glee about the total capitulation of the Gulf sheikhdoms – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – to Israel’s itinerary vis-à-vis Syria, Iran and the Palestinian issue, observing that “in the last 64 years there has probably never been a greater confluence of interest between us and several Gulf States. With these Gulf States we have agreements on Syria, on Egypt, on the Palestinian issue. We certainly have agreements on Iran. This is one of those opportunities presented by the Arab Spring.”
Roland Dumas, France’s former foreign minister, confirmed Israeli intrigue behind Syria’s internal woes. In a June 15, 2013, article for Global Research, journalist Gearóid Ó Colmáin quotes Dumas who told a French TV channel that the turmoil in Syria, which has cost the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians, was planned several years in advance. Dumas claimed that he met with British officials two years before the violence erupted in Damascus in 2011 and at the meeting they confessed to him “that they were organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria.” When asked for his support in the endeavor, Dumas declined, saying, “I’m French, that doesn’t interest me.’’ Dumas further pinpointed the architects of the madness as Israeli Zionists, suggesting that the Syria destabilization operation “goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned [by the Israeli regime].” Dumas noted that Syria’s anti-Israel stance sealed its fate in this respect and also revealed that a former Israeli prime minister once told him “we’ll try to get on with our neighbours but those who don’t agree with us will be destroyed.”
“Israel planned this war of annihilation years ago in accordance with the Yinon Plan, which advocates balkanization of all states that pose a threat to Israel,” writes Gearóid Ó Colmáin in the aforesaid piece. “The Zionist entity is using Britain and France to goad the reluctant Obama administration into sending more American troops to their death in Syria on behalf of Tel Aviv.”
Ó Colmáin argues that the West “are doing [Israel’s] bidding by attempting to drag [the United States] into another ruinous war so that Israel can get control of the Middle East’s energy reserves, eventually replacing the United States as the ruling state in the world. It has also been necessary for Tel Aviv to remain silent so as not to expose their role in the ‘revolutions’, given the fact that the Jihadist fanatics don’t realize they are fighting for Israel.”
ISIS: A Repository of Patsies for the False Flaggers
At long last, this brings us to the ‘second phase’ of the ISIS psyop: scaring Westerners into submission.
It’s no coincidence that the notorious belligerence of ISIS in its quest for a ‘caliphate’ aligns perfectly with the neocon agenda which aims to inculcate in the minds of the masses the myth of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between the West and Islam. In its official magazine, Dabiq, ISIS ideologues advanced a parallel attitude with the neocon desire for a civilizational conflict. Is that merely happenstance? Or has ISIS been manufactured by the neocons to serve as the ultimate boogeyman and straw man caricature of ‘Islamic radicalism’?
The godfather of neoconservatism, Leo Strauss, espoused a dogma of deception, stipulating that in order to corral society behind the wishes of an elite vanguard an ‘external enemy’ must be fashioned. This ‘enemy’ could be real, but enemies usually exist in the eye of the beholder and in the minds of those seeking opposition. Strauss made it clear that if this societal ‘enemy’ did not exist or was not formidable enough to generate an adequate amount of fear required to paralyze and manipulate the masses, then one should be invented or inflated and then advertised to the populace as a real, pressing danger.
For the neocons, this phantom nemesis forms the crux of their strategy of subjugation. Without it, the public would never consent to their lunatic foreign policies, nor would anyone feel threatened enough to willingly relinquish their freedoms in the name of security. This is what ISIS is all about.
As demonstrated earlier, ISIS was cultivated by our own governments to destabilize and ultimately overthrow various regimes in the Middle East and North Africa that fell astray of the Globalist-Zionist program. The Western media has purposely marketed the ISIS ‘brand’ across the globe, making it a household name. The Zionist globalists built up ISIS to do their bidding abroad, but despite media sensationalism the group is not nearly strong enough to pose any serious threat to Western countries. So while ISIS represents no legitimate military threat to the West, its global reputation for brutality and obscene violence is seen as a fantastic propaganda tool to frighten Western populations into consenting to the extirpation of their freedoms at home.
The Zionist globalists have put that carefully crafted ISIS image to work, fabricating a series of perfectly timed ‘terror events’ inside Western countries which have been used to curtail freedoms under the guise of ‘keeping us safe from the terrorists.’ What the gullible commoners don’t realize is that these ‘terrorists’ are controlled by our own governments and are being wielded against us to vindicate the construction of an Orwellian police state.
The string of ‘lone-wolf’ attacks that hit Ottawa, Sydney, Paris and now Copenhagen over the past five months since the West first ‘declared war’ on ISIS are all part of an organized neocon strategy of tension. The intelligence agencies of the West and Israel stand behind them all. In every case, the ‘terrorists’ had long histories of mental illness and/or frequent run-ins with the law; the standard rap-sheet of a patsy whose innumerable weaknesses are exploited by government agents to produce a type-cast ‘fall guy’ to play the part of the ‘wily gunman’ who ‘hates our freedoms.’ ISIS therefore in effect provides the false flag con artists who control our governments with an inexhaustible wellspring of patsies for their operations.
As the researcher Joshua Blakeney pointed out, “Some peasant in Yemen may be angry [enough at the West to want to harm it] but he [could] never [physically carry out] such an attack without it being made possible by the false-flag planners.” A ‘let it happen’ or a ‘made it happen’ scenario amounts to the same thing – without the connivance of the government in question there is no ‘attack’ to even discuss. Since ISIS is a ‘global’ phenomenon, according to our controlled media, authorities don’t even have to prove that these deranged individuals are even members of the group. All they have to say is that they were ‘inspired’ by the group’s message which can be accessed online, and that’s enough to indict them in the court of public opinion. Even if all that were true, it still wouldn’t eliminate potential state involvement, which usually comes in the form of equipping the dupe with the necessary armaments to execute the plot and preventing well-meaning police and intelligence people from intervening to stop it. These are the kinds of queries the West’s big media patently refuses to pursue, knowing full well that the state is almost always complicit with, and keen to exploit, whatever tragedy befalls their population.
All of the latest traumatic terror events in Western capitals have been instantly branded by lying, cynical politicians as attacks on ‘free speech’ and the ‘values of Western civilization,’ a familiar trope first trotted out by George W. Bush and his neocon puppet masters after the false flag attacks of 9/11.
However, what many are starting to realize is that whatever threat some mind controlled junkie might pose to our lives, our own governments are a markedly more dangerous menace to our liberties, well being and way of life. They prove this point every single day with a manifold of new freedom-busting laws that they pass using the comical excuse of protecting us from their own Frankenstein.
That’s the simple truth of the matter that the neocon false flaggers seek to suppress at all costs as they desperately hold up the façade of their artificial power which will inevitably collapse under its own weight.
Brandon Martinez is an independent writer and journalist from Canada who specializes in foreign policy issues, international affairs and 20th and 21st century history. He is the co-founder of Non-Aligned Media and the author of the 2014 books Grand Deceptions and Hidden History. Readers can contact him at martinezperspective[at]hotmail.com or visit his blog at http://martinezperspective.com
Copyright 2015 Brandon Martinez
Those still wondering what really happened in gonzo journalist Michael Hastings’ fiery demise likely sat up straight during 60 Minutes’ recent piece on how hackers can hijack the controls of a car.
After Hastings died in a bizarre one-car crash along a straight Los Angeles street, former counterterrorism adviser Richard Clarke noted the accident was “consistent with a car cyber attack” and that it was easy to hack cars. It seems he was right, as 60 Minutes demonstrated in a chilling fashion.
In the segment, a nervous Lesley Stahl smashed into safety cones on a driving course after two men using a laptop computer remotely commandeered her brakes. Former video game developer Dan Kaufman, who’s now working for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, set up the demonstration.
In trying to figure out what kinds of attacks enemies might be plotting on American soil, government agencies are learning the same techniques. To wrest the controls from Stahl, a hacker dialed in through the vehicle’s OnStar system to first busy up the computer, then planted code that allowed it to reprogram the control systems. Kaufman stood by giving driving orders to the hackers.
The demonstration underscored what Clarke, counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said after Hastings’ crash. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard,” he said. “So if there were a cyber attack on the car—and I’m not saying there was—I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.” Clarke added that the LAPD was unlikely to have the tools necessary to detect such an attack, particularly after a fire.
No Crowbar Needed, Just an iPad
One thing is clear: Drivers are at risk.
In a stinging report released this week, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey slammed car companies for their failure to protect car owners from hackers and intrusive data collectors who might seize control of increasingly computerized vehicles. “Automakers haven’t done their part to protect us from cyber-attacks or privacy invasions,” he said.
Much of the report focuses on how car computers can be used to collect driving history, from where a car is parked to where it traveled. But it also reveals hackers’ ability to remotely turn, stop and accelerate cars. Markey’s report notes that car companies can now disable vehicles if owners fall behind on their payments. Burglars can exploit the same vulnerabilities.
But Markey doesn’t believe there have been other types of incidents in which hackers seize control of cars—yet.
Nonetheless, the 60 Minutes story and Markey’s investigation likely made drivers squirm the next time they climbed behind the wheel.
The report has also reignited suspicions that arose nearly two years ago after Hastings’ crash.
Hastings’ work as a thorn in the side of government and the 33-year-old journalist’s death in an unusual crash in June 2013 immediately triggered speculation. A witness reported seeing Hastings’ new silver Mercedes C250 coupe speeding down a Hollywood street before dawn when it bounced, slammed into a tree and burst into flames.
Shortly before Hastings’ death, he sent what was described as a “panicky” email to friends expressing concern that associates were being interviewed by “the Feds.” He also wrote that he was onto a big story and needed to “get off the radar for a bit.” His 2010 story for Rolling Stone in which Stanley McChrystal skewered the White House and its strategy in Afghanistan led to the general’s resignation.
The FBI denied Hastings was the target of any investigation, yet a Freedom of Information Act request later unearthed an FBI file on Hastings. Hastings also told a neighbor he thought someone had been tampering with his car. At the time of his death he was working on an article about CIA director John Brennan.
The Los Angeles Police Department concluded that the crash was an accident and did not involve foul play. The coroner’s report also declared Hastings’ death, ascribed to “massive blunt force trauma,” as accidental, and revealed that there were trace amounts of marijuana and amphetamine in his system, though neither was considered a factor in the crash. The report noted that Hastings’ family had been trying to convince him to go into detox.
Just an Accident?
Hastings’ widow, who hired a private investigator to examine all the evidence, at least publicly labeled the crash an accident. “You know, my gut here, was that it was just a really tragic accident,” Elise Jordan said in an interview two months after Hastings’ death.
Hastings’ brother Jonathan said that he feared his sibling was experiencing a “manic episode” before his death, which he suspected was linked to drugs. He had flown to LA to try to convince his brother to enter rehab; Hastings died the next day. “The government is out of control in a lot of ways, so I sympathize with people who want to turn Mike’s death into some kind of symbol,” he said. “I just think that his death happens to be a bad foundation to build that case on.”
But not everyone agrees. “I’m definitely suspicious about the crash,” Montana state Rep. Daniel Zolnikov told WhoWhatWhy. The Republican legislator has introduced a bill, which he says was inspired in part by Hastings’ work, to bar state government agencies from accessing servers to get reporters’ notes.
Like Markey, Zolnikov is also concerned about risks posed by increasingly high-tech cars, which he described as “computers without protections.”
If that’s the case, then the information superhighway and highways have merged dangerously.
… as America debates the possibility of a full-scale ground invasion of ISIS-controlled territory, it’s important to note that much of the ISIS threat — namely that which targets the West — has been habitually overstated by an uncritical media.
In no particular order, here are the ten most bogus ISIS scare stories over the past year:
1. Female genital mutilation edict – July 2014
2. Church-burning in Mosul – July 2014
Why it’s bogus: An intrepid archaeologist, Sam Hardy, called BS and thanks to the magic of reverse image Google search and some prodding by yours truly, it was eventually retracted by several outlets and never mentioned again.
3. ISIS in Mexico – October 2014
Why it’s bogus: Absurd on its face, the story was quickly and roundly debunked.
4. ISIS recruiting emo British teen – December 2014
Why it’s bogus: The person who uploaded the picture admitted on Twitter it was a fake. The media subsequently deemed it a “hoax”.
5. ISIS Caliphate map – July 2014
Why it’s bogus: The original story from ABC News cited a map that had been floating around the Internet for months. To this day, its one and only source is a tweet from a noted white supremacist website Third Position.
6. ISIS beheads Christian children – Aug 2014
Who it fooled: Originally asserted on CNN by self-proclaimed Iraqi-Christian activist Mark Arabo–a grocery story industry lobbyist whose previous media appearance was on a local San Diego news channel to oppose an increase in minimum wage–this story spread among right-wing and Christian media.
Why it’s bogus: After a fairly thorough inquiry, snopes eventually determined the claim was “inconclusive,” having found no independent evidence it occurred.
7. $425m bank robbery – June 2014
8. ‘Over 100 Americans have joined ISIS’ – October 2014
Why it’s bogus: After the FBI admitted there were only “about a dozen” Americans fighting alongside jihadists in Syria in September 2014, several media outlets continued to report “over 100,” despite the government correcting the record several weeks prior.
9. #AllEyesOnISIS “Twitter storm” – June 2014
Why it’s bogus: Yours truly showed that the “Twitter storm” was simply a reposting of weeks- or months-old tweets by an overzealous ISIS fanboi.
10. ISIS’s ebola terror plot – December 2014
Why it’s bogus: “Iraqi media” was the only source for the story, and the Iraqi minister of Health quickly debunked it.
Nine months into Barack Obama’s presidency, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation”. Six years on, has the 44th president of the United States lived up to his peacemaker laurels?
Humility and Power
“… our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please… our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” – First inaugural address, January 2009.
“We’re the largest, most powerful country on Earth… [America] is going to be the indispensable nation for the remainder of this century.” – January 2015, interview with Vox magazine
“Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?“ – Candidate Obama in a June 2008 speech in Berlin, Germany
August 2014 news conference: “We tortured some folks… We did some things that were contrary to our values.”
“… might does not make right…Citizens, like nations, will never settle for a world where the big are allowed to bully the small. “ – Speaking in Tallinn, Estonia, September 2014
“We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do.” – February 2015 interview with Vox magazine
Embargoes don’t work…Do they?
President Obama announced lifting the embargo against Cuba in January 2015, because “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to try something new.”
In the same speech, Obama boasted that “Russia is isolated with its economy in tatters,” due to sanctions by the US and EU governments for alleged Russian “provocations” in Ukraine.
“Ukraine must be free to decide its own destiny.” – Barack Obama, speaking in Estonia in September 2014
Legitimacy to lead
“A leader who slaughtered his citizens and gassed children to death cannot regain the legitimacy to lead a badly fractured country.” – Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly in September 2014, referring to President Bashar Assad of Syria.
“…since ultimately there is no military solution to this crisis, we will continue to support President Poroshenko’s efforts to achieve peace.” – Tallinn, September 2014
Petro Poroshenko’s plan for peace in Ukraine:
International law matters?
Addressing an EU youth conference in Brussels, in March 2014, Obama said: “in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force … international law matters.”
Partner, not policeman
Secretary of State John Kerry introduced President Obama at the Summit to Counter Violent Extremism as someone who has “consistently sought to act not as the world’s policeman, but as the world’s partner.”
While he doesn’t have the option of “simply invading every country where disorder breaks out,” the overall goal “is a world in which America continues to lead,” Obama told Vox magazine.